A top Kenyan pathologist has warned of so-called “vaccine apartheid” as the country continues to experience a high number of deaths due to a slow rollout of the COVID-19 jab.
In Africa, less than 2% of the population on the continent of 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Doctors and nurses working in hospitals in countries such as Kenya have suffered continued pressure due to the government’s lack of investment in vaccines.
Vaccine shortages continue to plague many African countries and hospitals in Kenya are seeing more deaths due to COVID-19
“It is only two countries in the whole of Africa that have the capacity to produce vaccines, that is South Africa and Senegal. You find countries like Kenya and Egypt, they do have the technical capacity but they never really invested in it,” said Ahmed Kalebi, independent consultant pathologist and founder of Lancet Kenya.
James Nderitu is a 58-year-old cobbler and resident of Nairobi, and is receiving his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
He believes that if everything had gone to plan, he should be on his second.
“I would therefore like to urge the European countries that have the vaccine, to assist us. Instead of vaccinating children, they should stop being selfish and help the African countries so that we can get vaccinated,” he said.
The Africa director for the World Health Organization recently hit out at richer western nations, accusing them of hoarding vaccines when there should be a more even distribution of jabs.
But Kalebi believes it’s not as simple as to blame western nations for Africa’s woeful vaccination rate.
“In a country like Kenya I think we don’t just have our priorities right. Because you find that a lot of the times, money will be poured into politics, money will be poured into other things but health, we are waiting for donations,” he said.
More than 7.3 million cases, including more than 186,000 deaths, have been confirmed across the continent, and health systems are straining to provide medical oxygen and other care.
If Africa continues to proceed at such a slow pace with its vaccination programme, it could have the effect of prolonging the pandemic internationally.